Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

The Showbox

Friday, Feb. 25

"We worked hard for this moment," Macklemore told the Showbox on Friday night, the first of

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Kicking Off His National Tour at Home, Macklemore Proves the Kids Are All Right

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

The Showbox

Friday, Feb. 25

"We worked hard for this moment," Macklemore told the Showbox on Friday night, the first of his three sold-out hometown dates. "And when I say we, I don't mean just the people on this stage--I mean Seattle hip-hop."

It was a well-spoken sentiment, and while he was referring as much to the fans as to his fellow musicians, the deep lineup didn't fail to impress. Sol rose to the occasion, playing quite possibly the best show he ever has. I savored the irony of the unnecessarily affectionate couple nearby slow-dancing through The Physics' "I Just Wanna Beat"--the highlight of a set from what may be the most underrated town gem. Grieves' comedy and charisma clashed beautifully with the somber tunes, accented by the incredible musicality of producer Budo.

But that look, the seemingly somber deadpan Macklemore wears on his face while staring at a sold-out crowd--that tells the true story of the night.

Check out this slideshow from Macklemore's 2/27 set.

Macklemore doesn't hide the fact that the one thing he's always aimed for is a deep-seated connection with his audience, and nothing proved the connection more than the mass of fans who could sing every word of every song, whether from more recent releases like Vs. or 2005's Language of My World. In contrast, when Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction played Neumos a week and change ago, the reward for the first audience member to recite four bars of any of the groups' songs hit a snag when no one could do it.

But the thunderous response to a call for '90s babies, plus the surprisingly easy-to-navigate bar, stood as even more proof that no demographic has been there to carry the flag more than kids not much older than Macklemore was when he first started rapping at Garfield High, and it doesn't seem to matter that a vast majority of his lyrics are far from obvious teen music. None of his hits, songs like cough-syrup confessional "Otherside" or Dave Niehaus tribute "My Oh My" or nostalgic sneaker hymn "Wings," cater to teenagers--they're about drug addiction, a baseball announcer too young for them to remember, sneakers stitched before they were born.

Sure, there were musical highlights of Mack & Ryan Lewis's set too: the new unheard material was exciting, sprinkled with double-timed cadence and trademark passion, and an appearance from Mad Rad's Buffalo Madonna for "Kings" temporarily transformed the hip-hop show into a new-wave dance party riding a haunting chorus. But as the night ended in a champion's stage dive amid "Irish Celebration," it was clear the show was as much an experience, especially for the idolizing youth, as a concert. And a triumphant one at that.

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